Secondly: Thanks, inXile, for a chance at playing beta to a game I've waited for since I first played Wasteland as a tiny child. I got in trouble in first grade for writing a story with Hell Razor in it, so needless to say, I have many fond memories around this IP. The length of this post notwithstanding, it's been a pleasure to play, and the love you guys have for the world really shows through.
I'm making this thread to enumerate a bunch of design nitpicks I have. None of them are "bugs" per se (except, arguably, the NPC ammo issue), so I didn't feel it made sense to submit them through CenterCode. The general theme to them, inasmuch as there is one, is that "reducing the tedium of optimum play is good". I've followed the development of a few games, and I've really admired that principle (among others) as a way of generating really good ludological design--I highly recommend, for example, the amazing open-source roguelike Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (http://crawl.develz.org/wordpress/), whose devs follow that concept religiously. The polish in the resulting game really shines through.
Enough dilly-dallying, here's the list:
- Lockpicking, etc: Limiting player access to items and areas is a hard problem. WL2 tries to solve this with difficulty classes that result in probabilities, and chances of critical failure to limit spam. I believe this is the wrong way to go about it--my optimal play when the game is designed this way is to quicksave before every attempt, and just reload on a critical failure, which is a tedious way to play the game. This isn't an easy problem, and open-world RPGs have tried a lot of different ways of going about it with varying levels of success. Here's a quick, very incomplete, enumeration:
- Difficulties represent a threshold--either you have enough skill, or you don't. This is very straightforward, which I like, but it's not very satisfying, since accessing the limited areas or items is just a result of spending skill points in the right place. However, it is strictly better than the current system, which is essentially this, except accomplished through tedious quicksaving and quickloading.
- Difficulties affect a minigame that the character plays. This has a lot of potential, but in practice it's going to be very difficult to have a minigame that is engaging without that coming at the expense of the rest of the game. Further, failing the minigame usually just means quickloading again, only with additional tedium of having to play the (possibly subpar) minigame.
- A variation on the first, difficulties are a threshold, with reduced/lengthened time taken to do the task as you approach or supercede the threshold (for example, a class 3 lock is unpickable at 1 skill, picks in 30s at 2 skill, in 10s at 3, in 5 at 4, etc). This isn't very interesting by itself, but combined with some NPC patrolling mechanics it could provide some flavor that the simple threshold approach lacks.
- Success/failure are calculated for all checks of a certain type in the entire game as a character gains skill points. This means that whether a character has succeeded or failed a check has already been calculated, and no amount of quickloading/quicksaving will help. This is kind of a variation on the first, except with a little opacity thrown in. It may or may not be terrible, I'm not sure--it certainly might be difficult to implement in the game mechanics, in a way that's both performant and not gameable
- Loot, the first: The distribute loot button doesn't seem to account for encumbrance, meaning my low-capacity first character is constantly getting overloaded while my high-capacity players get nothing assigned to their inventories. If you're giving me an affordance to take some of the tedium out of looting, please make sure it's less tedious than manually distributing loot in the first place.
- Loot, the second: Similarly, since there's no way to see how encumbered a character is except on the inventory screen, I never know who to pass items to when I'm distributing things without going to their screen. This means a lot of flipping back and forth to remember numbers that I shouldn't have to be doing.
- Weaponsmithing: When I'm destroying an item for parts, just let me choose which parts. The way the system is, my optimal play is to save/load to get whichever I'm trying for. Again, tedious. Similarly, when detaching a mod, it should either be recoverable, or not--no percentage chance.
- NPC Ammo ownership: If I accidentally pass Angela all my 5.56 ammo because I'm distributing things around, then I can't get it back. NPCs should either keep track of the amount of ammo they originally owned, and only get feisty to that level, or they should just not own ammo.
- Trinkets: There's no opportunity cost to having any trinkets. My optimal play is to fiddle with each one and slot it when needed (and quickload back to a chance to do so in case I forgot to, for example, if I forgot to put one of the *-Ass trinkets in before starting a dialog). Trinkets are much more interesting if carrying one gives me benefits at the cost of not putting in some other trinket. Some games accomplish this through attunement, or making things single-use with permanent effects, or other things like that. There are lots of options here.
- Specifically, that damn skill point trinket: This is the most tedious trinket in the game (that I've found, so far): I'm encouraged to micromanage experience gains so everyone gains levels one at a time, and slot the trinket before call-in to maximize bonus skill point gain. Even worse, I have zero incentive to slot the trinket at any other time, so it just sits around taking up inventory. Some form of attunement would greatly help this particular trinket, because its affect IS cool, just badly implemented.
- Another skill trinket note: As an aside, that trinket is the only place in the game that I can think of that calls skill points "survival points". The inconsistent terminology is pretty confusing, especially since all the UI elements imply they are "skill" points.
- Status effects: The ones that do damage don't do enough to give me any urgency. I tend to completely forget a character is poisoned until I see the effect go away. The ones that debilitate in some way are easy to get rid of (assuming I don't just quick load to redo whatever event gave it to me)--I just go and get a cup of tea or read something until the effect wears off. Again, tedious. The persistence should be based on something other than realtime play, and damaging effects should be scarier (balanced against available mitigations, like antivenom, of course).
- Tactics: I'd love love love a way to give simultaneous commands outside of combat. Setting up an ambush is much more difficult when I have to do everything one at a time at the speed of clicks, rather than giving three of my squadmates different move orders that are all executed simultaneously.
- Traps: If my high-awareness character detects a trap while they (or another character) is moving in to pick/disarm/whatever the object, stop the acting character. Forcing me to right-click every single safe and crate before I start doing my thing doesn't make the game better, it just makes it take longer.